Tag Archives: Photography

Steampunk Hands Around the World #1: Research Road Trip

A big part of my steampunk life is writing. I create alternative histories, with a twist and a touch of gadgetry.  My biggest tool is research. I make myself more familiar with historic facts and tiny details,  then change certain situations, extrapolate ramifications and create a new story.

So stoke up the fire. Let loose the steam, and buckle up and join me on my most recent research road trip:

Adelaide History:

There are several references to Adelaide’s history in many of my steampunk stories, including Hunted and All that Glitters .
I’m currently doing research for a new book and another steampunk short story. Both overlap on areas of background  research: on family names (story background) and local cemeteries (for setting).
There’s a photo board of early Adelaide settlers in the foyer of the State Library, but did you know you can also access the list online? http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/
But nothing beats a research road trip.
I phoned the Adelaide Hills council to check on historic cemeteries. Modern city cemeteries invoke a picture of isles of green grass and silent serenity. The upcoming scene is set in a small historic cemetery in the hills – a conglomerate of various ones I’ve visited in the past. I needed to remind myself of the atmosphere and the sounds.

Some dates from the day’s research:

In 1860, a law was passed restricting burials to official cemeteries. Houghton cemetery was established in 1854, with records kept from 1864. The earliest headstones I found were from 1862. It is still in current use. 
The newer sections are indeed clothed in luscious green grass but much of the area is compacted earth with gravel roads and paths  (so my fictional gardener is appropriate) .
From a writerly point of view:
  • Sounds included: crows, wind, distant vehicles, gravel crunching underfoot and dry leaves.
  • Smells: dust, eucalyptus, petrichor (love that word); it started raining when we were there.
  • I watched the rain bouncing off black marble which had become a mirror reflecting nearby headstones.
  • There was an air of melancholy calm.
Research is important to me. It gives me the feel of a location, allowing me to attempt to recreate the emotions on the page. I can still hear the sounds of the crunching leaves, the wind in the trees and the serenade of the crows.
I’m a visual person so a lot of my research is recorded in photographic form. I checked with the local council. Photography was allowed. To honour them and in respect to their families, I’m only posting photos that don’t display names of the deceased.
Trees, gravel road and compacted earth.
Decoration from 1862
Decoration from 1886
and later:
I was surprised to find some early headstones with quite intricate carving work.
Headstone makers’ marks:
and 1874
Various materials were used over the past one hundred years: slate, stone, marble. Black marble is used commonly these days. Each weathers differently.  There were entire family plots, the widest ranging I found was from 1880s to current.
My feelings are mixed after this research visit. There are so many stories that we will probably never know and so many lives recorded by their relatives. Yet the memory of so many unmarked graves and unreadable headstones fills me with sadness.
This road trip provided another experience, which may one day find its way into future stories, enriching characters and places.

Bonus – Research Road Trip Video

Photography and film ©2018 Karen Carlisle.

Follow the entire Steampunk Hands Around the World tour HERE
on the FB event page HERE

The Year That Was

It’s inevitable. With the end of each year, comes the long lists of achievements, the dissertations of regret,  the (sometimes even longer) and lists of resolutions for the upcoming year.
I promise I’ll stop this. I promise to do that. I promise…
I promise I won’t go on forever.


I have a few – mostly related to a desire to have spent more time with family, less time procrastinating instead of writing, not being rich enough to visit (or help bail out) friends and family interstate and overseas, wishing my health was better and I could wrangle my anxiety more efficiently.


This year we farewelled John Hurt (I will always remember him as the War Doctor), Carrie Fisher (It’s going to hurt when I finally get to see the new Star Wars movie)  and Bill Paxton (in so many of my ‘go to movies’, he almost felt like part of the family).

This both broke my heart and filled it up again:

Sometimes it’s harder to remember the good things (I think the bad seems to overwhelm us – living with anxiety can do that, particularly this year – but I  promised myself I wouldn’t get political in this post)…

I highly recommend creating your own ‘Thankful Jar’.  Though I’ve forgotten to add some things during the year, it still served it’s purpose. Spending the time, at the year’s close, unfolding each note and re-living the happy moments is worth the wait. Most of the best memories involve family, friends and unexpected kindness. To all those involved: thank you for making my year a better one.


This year was mainly consumed with writing.

Work completed:

I managed to publish my third book in time to sell at Supanova Adelaide. ‘The Illusioneer & Other Tales’ was also a significant milestone – the final in my first ever trilogy series. (available from Amazon, Book Depository, Bookworld, other online stores and direct sales from the author (me).) I also did the photography and cover design.

My short story, Mrs Hudson Investigates, was accepted into ‘Where’s Holmes’ anthology. This was published on 1st December and is available from Amazon and Book Depository. Hardback and eBook should be published in early 2018.

I’ve also submitted a dreadpunk/gaslamp short story to another anthology. (Wish me luck. I should find out early 2018).

Work in Progress:

I’ve almost completed the first draft of ‘The Department of Curiosities’ – a steampunk adventure with a heroine, mad scientists, traitors and secrets.  But I’ve been sidetracked with a new project (in a new genre – cosy paranormal mystery, set here in Adelaide). I’ve finished designing the cover and am working on internal artwork .

I attended some conventions and events:

This is a huge achievement for me. I get anxious each time I prepare for an event – braving the crowds and dealing with people is a constant battle between wanting to socialise and the urge to run away and hide in a blankie fort. Anxiety sucks!
It is exhausting, even when it is with the people I love, and takes me a few days to recover after each event. This year I attended:

  • Salisbury Secret Garden
  • Oz Comic Con (the final one in Adelaide)
  • Nullus Anxietas (Discworld Convention, Adelaide)
  • Steampunk Festival at the National Railways Museum in Adelaide, where ‘The Illusioneer & Other Tales’ was launched.
  • LibCon at Burnside Library
  • Supanova Adelaide
  • Christmas Gift Market at Tea Tree Gully Library
  • and a talk on Steampunk  for the Aus Sci Fi group.

I made some stuff:

I love creating (including writing). It both bares and replenishes my soul. This year managed to make some costumes and took more photos.

My favourtie costume was my TARDIS corset and skirt. I had help with toiling the pattern at the ACG corset workshop. Other favourites were my steampunk Wiked Witch of the West (Oz) with my flying monkey and my tea cup holder for belt – made with some construction help (hammering) by my Dearheart (as my wrists were playing up again.)


Steampunk also featured prominently this year (not surprising at all, really). This year saw the Scribblers’ Den (steampunk writing forum) move twice, with the sudden shut down of ‘The Steampunk Empire’. Thankfully we are now ensconced at ‘Welcome to Steampunk‘. This is an amazing group of writers, from all over the world, who support each others’ work. Love you guys! If you are a steampunk writer, come say hello!

Upcoming in 2018

2018 is full of all things new – I’ve got a new look banner and business cards and have already updated the look of my webpage. It was feeling ‘old’, making me feel dowdy and less professional. Now I feel invigorated each time I add something new.

I’ve started two new book series (as mentioned above) and will be attending my first interstate convention (as an author). Look out for me (and the Adelaide indie author group) in the Artists’ Alley at Melbourne Supanova. I’ve already booked for Supanova Adelaide and plan to launch a new book at Steampunk Festival next year.

One thing that has been lacking this year is work on my garden. So I declare one of my resolutions is to re-connect to the earth, tend my garden and reap the benefits of the endorphins.

Happy new year to you all.
“Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind.”

photos and costumes ©2017 Karen Carlisle
Ball photo ©2017 Steamkittens
Quote from Doctor Who:Twice Upon a Time.

Photo Friday (and Video): Supanova Adelaide

Hi everyone,

Another convention has come and gone. My new book was available. There were lots of amazing costumes, I science-squee’d over Dr Karl, met some Aussie authors and caught up with friends. There’s even a video.



Katie, Kylie and I all had our third book just published. 

And the promised con video:

photography and film/video ©2017 Karen Carlisle